The Collaboratory

Professional design challenges for our cutting-edge creatives.

Students often ask, “How can I get a job if I don’t have experience? How can I get experience if I don’t have a job?” The Collaboratory is the stone that hits both birds. The Collaboratory delivers customer-focused, design-based solutions for businesses and experiential learning opportunities for students.

How does it work?

Forward-thinking businesses come to us with professional design challenges. We turn those challenges into legitimate projects and connect faculty and students with the opportunity to create innovative design solutions. 

The Collaboratory offers multiple ways to engage students and clients, from a one-day Immersive to a long-term, multi-semester engagement. Find out how you can participate!

The Collaboratory is a partnership between Ringling College of Art and Design and The Patterson Foundation. 

'The Collaboratory Commitment'

“Our ‘Collaboratory Commitment’ guarantees that every student at Ringling College will have the opportunity to work with a real world client on a real world project by the time they graduate. And that’s a promise.”
– Dr. Larry R. Thompson

The Commitment offers a number of programs and opportunities that are designed to enhance the quality of student learning at Ringling College by providing professional experiences that allow students to build their portfolios, strengthen their resumés, and acquire confidence and familiarity with professional best practices.

The Collaboratory was established in order to provide groundbreaking, creative, experiential learning opportunities that help bridge the gap between theory and practice.

The Collaboratory is one of several pathways for students to gain hands-on, feet wet, fully immersive experiential learning alongside:

Art Network
Academic Department Projects & Internships
Career Services Internships
Design Center
Service-Learning & Volunteerism
Studio Lab

For more information about The Collaboratory Commitment,  Click here 

Why Get Involved?

Professional design challenges require innovative design solutions. That’s why The Collaboratory exists.

The Collaboratory is an opportunity for Ringling College students to put their skills to work in an educational setting, while also providing businesses and brands with innovative, relevant design solutions from some of the nation’s most talented young artists and designers. By partnering with The Collaboratory, organizations provide our students with priceless experiential learning opportunities. Working with client organizations fosters a greater understanding of a business’ specific challenges, imparts knowledge about and interest in the industry, and can yield new relationships that will last a professional lifetime. 

For Collaboratory Clients

Organizations partnering with the Collaboratory gain access to fresh perspectives on their new and existing design challenges from the emerging creative leaders of tomorrow. You will collaborate with the best and brightest at Ringling College to break new ground and stay ahead of the curve. Collaboratory students and faculty have employed their expertise in diverse industries such as hospitality & tourism, law enforcement, healthcare and biomedical, and e-commerce. 


A happy client

"We were absolutely thrilled with the creativity and quality of the design concepts we received. Investing in this charrette was one of the wisest business decisions we’ve made for our new restaurant and bar."

- Jill Ramsey, Sanctuary Holdings

For Collaboratory Students

Students participating in the Collaboratory quickly acquire the skills needed to thrive in our fast-paced professional work environment. As a Collaboratory student, you will work on faculty-led teams and collaborate with clients to tackle exciting design challenges.  


A happy student

"Working with real clients while still being a student is priceless; it’s low-risk but has the high pressure and countless possible outcomes of a real job setting. These experiences have resulted in me understanding several industries and how they work and given me insight into my own future."

- Keith Nelson, Business of Art and Design student

Collaboratory Project Types

The Collaboratory offers three options for engagement:


Build quick, creative solutions.

An Immersive focuses on a concentrated effort to work on product deliverables as a team for a specific client. They are conducted over a short time period, generally 3-4 weekends. Immersives are one of our most popular offerings as our student teams can transform brands and businesses over the course of a month.

Course Projects

Collaborate on a comprehensive campaign.

Over the course of 16 weeks, faculty-led student teams will take a deep dive into an organization, working with leadership and staff of the organization. Applying theoretical classroom learning and professional design practices, the student teams conduct research and ideation, and develop a variety of design approaches to come up with the most effective solutions for an organization’s specific needs. Typical engagements involve meetings, prototyping and comps, and comprehensive strategies that range from branding to merchandising and media campaigns.

It's a Win-Win

It's a win-win

A Competition offers students the chance to compete against each other for a third-party contest. Generally, winners receive monetary or tangible prizes, awards, or public recognition. Competitions are quick, time-sensitive sessions where designers draft solutions to design problems and are required to submit their offerings within 72 hours to 2 weeks.


Many projects evolve into a multi-phase engagements that can include long-term community relations and internal design initiatives. Long-term projects can range from several semesters to several years in length and are customized based on the client’s and college’s needs and priorities.

Case Studies

Who we’ve worked with and how it worked out…

Porter Family Vineyards:
family-owned and -operated boutique vineyard and in-cave winery located in Napa Valley.


The Sarasota Police Department (SPD):
A progressive, professional department of the City of Sarasota with a sworn force of over 175 officers dedicated to serving its citizens.


An online recording studio where users can invite friends to collaborate in real time.


We’d love to hear from you! 

Ringling College of Art and Design
The Collaboratory
2700 N Tamiami Trail
Sarasota, FL 34234